COVID-19

Credit Photo Provided / Photo Provided

This is a guide to the things we do know, from scientists, doctors and public health experts — a resource that changes alongside our understanding of this virus.

FAQ:  The Essential Coronavirus FAQ
MAP:  The real-time spread of coronavirus
STATE:  Tracking by State 
HOSPITAL:  Capacity by County

A few months ago, South Dakota was in the news for its rising coronavirus case numbers and deaths. It's a rural, less populous state. But the disproportionately high caseload strained the health care system.

Now, as daily case numbers continue on a downward trend nationwide, the state is notable again, but for a different reason: the success of its vaccine rollout.

Two More Regions Enter Phase 4; Pritzker Gives Vaccine Update

Jan 25, 2021
Blueroomstream.com

Two more regions of the state moved to Phase 4 COVID-19 guidelines, meaning five of 11 regions can now allow both indoor dining and organized sports.

Region 1 in northwest Illinois and Region 2 in north-central Illinois each moved to Phase 4, which allows for indoor dining and drinking and, after last Friday’s announcement from the Illinois Department of Public Health, competitive participation in high school athletics. Regions 3 in west-central Illinois, 5 in southern Illinois and 6 in east-central Illinois are all already in Phase 4.

Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET

Teachers at Chicago Public Schools were slated to return to the classroom on Monday, in preparation for the return of students to the district's K-8 schools next week.

But on Sunday, a majority of the Chicago Teachers Union's membership voted in favor of a resolution to continue to work remotely. The union said 71% of its voting members had voted to conduct remote work only, with 86% voter participation.

California is lifting stay-at-home orders for all regions in the state, including Southern California, the Bay Area and the San Joaquin Valley — the three regions that had still been under the order — citing a drop in intensive care unit projections. But health officials warn that most counties still need to follow strict guidelines.

Moderna says tests show that its COVID-19 vaccine offers protection against new variants of the coronavirus but that the vaccine is more effective against the variant first identified in the U.K. than the one found in South Africa. As a result, Moderna will test booster doses of its vaccine, including one that would be tailored to fight strains that have recently emerged.

Merck is halting development of its two COVID-19 vaccine candidates, saying that while the drugs seemed to be safe, they didn't generate enough of an immune response to effectively protect people against the coronavirus.

Protesters opposed to coronavirus lockdowns in several Dutch cities clashed with police over the weekend after new restrictions went into effect.

Videos of the demonstrations posted online show large crowds of people — many not wearing masks — using bicycles to build barricades along city streets, and hurling rocks at officers and passing police vans. Shops were broken into and looted.

President Biden will reimpose a ban on many non-U.S. citizens attempting to enter the country. The move is an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19 and contain new variants of the disease that have cropped up in several countries around the globe, according to media reports Sunday.

Almost exactly one year after the first case of the coronavirus was detected in the United States, the country has now reached 25 million confirmed infections. As it has for months, the U.S. remains by far the most coronavirus-riddled country in the world.

New Zealand has kept its community spread of the coronavirus low by keeping tight border controls, but on Sunday the country of 5 million reported its first suspected community case since November. And officials say it might involve a more transmissible variant of the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says letting the science speak on the pandemic got him "into a little bit of trouble" during the Trump administration.

Three Regions Cleared for Sports Amid Lessened COVID-19 Restrictions

Jan 22, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

All high school sports – including the higher-risk football, basketball and wresting – may now be played in three regions of Illinois as the state continues to loosen restrictions amid the pandemic.

All regions of the state had moved out of Tier 3 mitigations as of Friday as the COVID-19 health metrics continue to show improvement statewide. The three of the state’s 11 regions that have rolled back to Phase 4 mitigations are free to allow high school sports. Meanwhile, the entire state will move into Phase 1B of its vaccine distribution plan starting Monday.

Senate Update from US Senator Dick Durbin.

Jan 22, 2021
image
United States Senator Dick Durbin/Provided

Illinois' senior Senator Dick Durbin says he supports President Biden's ambitious efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, including the goal of administering 100 million doses of the vaccine in 100 days.  Durbin also supports the President's order requiring masks  be worn in all federal buildings.

Trailers for the latest 007 movie, No Time to Die, have been all over the Internet since late 2019. Its theatrical release has slipped from April, to November, to April 2021. And MGM says it will now slip again, to Oct. 8, a year and a half past the film's first scheduled premiere.

As slow as the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has been in the United States, some estimates say billions of people around the world won't be vaccinated for COVID-19 until 2022 or 2023.

Bloomberg has been publishing a map that shows the level of vaccine distribution in different countries and virtually the entire continent of Africa — more than 50 nations — is blank.

When Super Bowl LV kicks off next month in Tampa Bay, Fla., some special guests will be in attendance – thousands of health care workers from around the country.

Japanese officials are swatting away rumors and reports that the government has concluded that, with the Tokyo Olympics 151 days away and much of the country in a COVID-19 state of emergency, the games cannot be held.

Positivity Rate Progress Sparks More Mitigation Movement

Jan 21, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Only one of the state’s 11 COVID-19 mitigation regions remains at the highest level of restricted activity Thursday as the statewide case positivity rate continues to decline.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Thursday that Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, was moved to Tier 1 mitigations, while Region 6 in east-central Illinois moved back to base Phase 4 guidelines.

Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET

"I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization," Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday, informing the WHO's executive board that President Biden has reversed former President Donald Trump's move to leave the U.N.'s health agency.

The U.S. will also fulfill its financial obligations to the WHO, Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, said, as well as cease a drawdown of U.S. staff who work with the organization.

SSM Health began providing COVID-19 vaccinations to Phase 1B patients on Wednesday at its primary care office in Mt. Vernon. 

Most of us don't have to think too often about the logistics of dying and about what closure, like wakes, funerals, memorials, actually requires.

But Todd Beckley has to. The Los Angeles County-area funeral director says he's never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. He says that Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary where he works is so overwhelmed, they're using "every embalming table, every gurney, every table."

And there is a waiting list 23 families long.

Jackson County Offers Online Sign Up For COVID Vaccine

Jan 20, 2021

As demand continues for the COVID vaccine, there is also some confusion about how to make an appointment. 

Appointments for the COVID vaccine are scheduled online in Jackson County. For those without computer or internet, health department administrator Bart Hagston said a friend or relative can schedule an appointment for you.

“You’re able to sign up anybody you might care for or that needs some assistance in signing up,” Hagston explained.

State COVID-19 Positivity Rate Continues to Drop

Jan 20, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

The state continued to see progress with its rolling seven-day average COVID-19 case positivity rate, which decreased for the 12th straight day Wednesday.

The rolling positivity rate stood at 5.5 percent, a decrease of two-tenths of a percentage point from the previous day, marking its lowest point since Oct. 20.

The night before their inauguration, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris stood near the Lincoln Memorial and marked more than 400,000 people killed by the coronavirus. On Wednesday, the Biden administration takes responsibility for fighting the pandemic.

As soon as COVID-19 hit, there was a massive jump in telemedicine visits. A Centers for Disease Control study found that in March 2020 there was a 154% increase compared to the previous year.

Now it’s clear the coronavirus has dramatically changed the way Americans get medical care. But some of these virtual options remain out of reach for the most vulnerable populations, like seniors.

COVID-19 Mitigations Rolled Back in 9 Regions

Jan 19, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Nine of 11 regions in the state’s COVID-19 mitigation plan have seen mitigations lifted in the past week, with two moving all the way back to Phase 4 restrictions.

The announcement came as hospitalizations and positivity rates continued to decline and the state launched a contracting effort to increase hospital staffing, adjusting the available bed metrics that determine mitigation levels.

Updated at 8:02 p.m. ET

Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist accused of intentionally trying to spoil hundreds of COVID-19 vaccine doses last month, has been charged with attempted criminal damage to property.

Updated at 5:52 p.m. ET

Four-hundred lights around the Lincoln Memorial's reflecting pool were lit Tuesday evening to honor the 400,000 people in the U.S. who have died from COVID-19.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris both spoke.

State Seven-Day COVID-19 Positivity Rate Hits Lowest Point Since Oct. 23

Jan 19, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

The state’s COVID-19 seven-day average case positivity rate dropped to 5.7 percent Tuesday, the lowest it has been since Oct. 23.

The positivity rate peaked at 13.2 percent on a rolling average as of Nov. 13, and the entire state entered strict Tier 3 mitigations on Nov. 20. Since then the positivity rate has been on a continual downward trend except for the two weeks following Christmas day when it rose from just under 7 percent to over 8.5 percent before beginning to fall again.

In Los Angeles County, an environmental regulator has temporarily relaxed limits on the number of cremations that can be performed each month, citing a backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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